Facebook to Add ‘Secret Conversations’ to Messenger App
The app has long taken a back seat to the social media giant’s WhatsApp, but Facebook hopes the service will attract a global audience.
Like the Telegram and the forthcoming Google Allo you have to opt-in for your messages to be encrypted. Having encryption turned on by default is important in that it protects and secures users who aren’t tech savvy and might not understand the benefits of encrypted communication. Basically, most users will simply not enable the setting – so your communication won't be secure.
Facebook’s new “Secret” mode in messenger will use the Signal encryption protocol. That's a bonus as it's received universal praise from security experts. These big companies aren't enabling it by default because they want to read the content of your messages. It's part of how they make money and I get it, but doing it opt-in actually creates a false sense of security.
“There are many Telegram users who think they are communicating in an encrypted way, when they’re not because they don’t realize that they have to turn on an additional setting,” Christopher Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Gizmodo. “Telegram has delivered everything that the government wants. Would I prefer that they used a method of encryption that followed industry best practices like WhatsApp and Signal? Certainly. But, if its not turned on by default, it doesn’t matter.”
By the way… you can have fully encrypted SMS AND voice calls for free via apps made by OpenWhisperSystems; the creators of the Signal encryption protocol (https://whispersystems.org/). Yes… the same protocol all these big companies are using in their messenger apps but aren't (with the exception of WhatsApp) enabling by default… you can get apps that do and for free.